Tony Abbott has welcomed the recent audit report on Australia’s infrastructure, despite suggestions that it doesn’t exactly line up with the prime minister’s transport philosophy.
The audit, released by Infrastructure Australia last week, said investment from the public and private sectors would need to increase if Australia is to meet its road and public transport needs.
Many have suggested the report demands a change in stance from Abbott, who has built his government on road funding, leaving rail for the states to handle.
Shadow transport minister Anthony Albanese said the audit has confirmed the “stupidity” of Abbott’s policy.
“The figures are stark,” Albanese said last week. “They confirm the absurdity of Tony Abbott’s stubborn refusal to invest in public transport.”
While he wasn’t quite so blunt, ARA interim chairman Bob Herbert said the report confirmed the need for proper funding of rail.
“Government, with the support of the private sector, must take decisive action to meet the nation’s burgeoning infrastructure needs,” Herbert said.
“Rail infrastructure underpinning passenger transport must be in place to meet population growth which, according to the audit, will swell demand for public transport by 55% in Sydney, 121% in Melbourne and around 89% in other capital cities.”
Herbert said funding the infrastructure challenge will require “an imaginative approach”.
“The Infrastructure Australia Audit Report is timely and makes a significant contribution to identifying Australia’s infrastructure needs,” he added.
“Now is the time for action.”
Nonetheless, Abbott and his minister for infrastructure, Warren Truss, were happy with the audit, saying it “will drive action on infrastructure investment by revealing the costs of inaction”.
“For example, road congestion in Australia is currently costing some $13.7 billion per year,” the prime minister said in a joint statement with Truss.
“If we don’t take action, the cost will be $53 billion a year by 2031.
“The Government has already taken significant steps to address our nation’s infrastructure backlog, after years of under-funding by previous governments.
“Investing in the right infrastructure will support Australia’s economic growth and unlock our economic potential.”